It’s week 3 of the ComicMix Challenged Challenge and in this episode twin teen geeks Maddy and Anya—the Tweeks—talk about the controversy surrounding Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s This One Summer.
A multi award-winning book and the first graphic novel to receive a Caldecott Honor, This One Summer has garnered significant critical acclaim since its release last year. Along with earning the prestige of the Caldecott honor, though, the book has also received negative backlash for what some would attempt to classify as “age-inappropriate” content.
When the Caldecott Award and honors were announced, people weren’t expecting This One Summer, a graphic novel geared more towards the older age-range of the criteria spectrum, to be included. In the past ten years, around 80% of the award and honor recipients have been books aimed at readers age 8 and younger. The award can actually cover books suitable for children up to 14 years old. This being said, This One Summer, written for ages 12+, caused some concern among those who ordered the book based on the award and not familiarity with the subject matter or age group. Several communities saw unsuccessful attempts to ban the book.
“The book really shows how kids, and teens especially, how everything around them is changing and how they kind of have to change too,” said the Tweeks. “It’s a really good story.” First and foremost it’s a book about the changing lives of a group of tweens dealing with very really things like teen pregnancy and interpersonal relationships. As the Tweeks, who are both readers within the book’s suggested age-range, point out, the characters are people that they can identify with and in general the realistic nature of the narrative appeals to the situations that they themselves deal with on a daily basis.
“Publishers and authors cannot be blamed for parents who are not in control of what their children read,” noted the Tweeks. “Once again this falls under the category of: parents can control what their family’s reading, not the libraries.” And yet, some continued to attack the book for their own lack of research and ignorance regarding their children’s reading materials — attacks that in the end were futile because of the efforts of CBLDF and librarians and educators who saw the book as a great value to literature and the Caldecott legacy.
“Graphic novels and comics are written for specific interests and ages and sensitivities. This is why there are rating or age-range suggestions.” If a parent isn’t sure about the content of a book or whether it is appropriate for their child, the best thing to do is pick up a copy and give it a try themselves before attempting to ban the book for everyone.
And for educators and librarians, below is a quick list of several of the resources that CBLDF provides should you need to defend your students and patrons right to read if this book is challenged in your community:
- Case Study: This One Summer
- Adding This One Summer to Your Library or Classroom Collection
- Using Graphic Novels in Education: This One Summer
- CBLDF Banned Books Week Handbook!
- Raising a Reader! How Comics and Graphic Novels Can Help Your Kids Love to Read!